Tuesday, February 26, 2002

[2/26/2012] The first two-thirds of Act III of "Rigoletto"


The Duke gropes Maddalena in Act III
of Lyric Opera of Chicago's Rigoletto.


VERDI: Rigoletto: Act III, Opening scene
The right bank of the River Mincio. On the left is a two-storied house, half fallen into ruin. At ground level, beyond an arcade, the interior of a rustic wine shop can be seen and a rough stone staircase leading to a loft with a small bed, which, since there are no shutters, is in full view. Downstairs, in the wall facing the road, is a door that opens inwards. The wall itself is so full of cracks and boles here that whatever takes place within is clearly visible. In the background are the deserted fields along the Mincio, which runs behind a crumbling parapet. Beyond the river lies Mantua.

It is night.
GILDA and RIGOLETTO, both ill at ease, are standing in the road; SPARAFUCILE is seated at a table in the wine shop.

No. 11 - Scena and Canzone
RIGOLETTO: And you love him?
GILDA : I always will.
RIGOLETTO: Yet I have given you time to forget.
GILDA: I love him.
RIGOLETTO: Poor woman's heart! Ah, the scoundrel!
You shall be avenged, o Gilda.
GILDA: Have pity, my father!
RIGOLETTO: And if you were sure
of his lack of faith, would you still love him?
GILDA: I do not know, but he adores me.
RIGOLETTO: Well then, just watch.
[He leads her to a crack in the wall. She looks through into the wine shop.]
GILDA: I see a man.
RIGOLETTO: Wait a moment.
[The DUKE, wearing the uniform of a cavalry officer, enters the wine shop through a door on the left.]
GILDA [startled]: Ah, father!
DUKE [to SPARAFUCILE]: Two things, and quickly.
SPARAFUCILE: What things?
DUKE: A room and a bottle of wine!
RIGOLETTO: (These are the fellow's habits.)
SPARAFUCILE: (Oh, the gay blade!)
[He goes into an adjoining room.]
DUKE: Women are as fickle
as feathers in the wind,
simple in speech,
and simple in mind.
Always the lovable,
sweet, laughing face,
but laughing or crying,
the face is false for sure.
If you rely on her
you will regret it,
and if you trust her
you are undone!
Yet none can call himself
fully contented
who has not tasted
love in her arms!
Women are as fickle, etc.
[SPARAFUCILE returns with a bottle of wine and two glasses, which he puts on the table; then he strikes the ceiling twice with the pommel of his sword. At this signal, a buxom young woman in gypsy costume comes jumping down the stairs. The DUKE runs to kiss her, but she eludes him. Meanwhile, SPARAFUCILE, having slipped out into the road, speaks softly to RIGLETTO.]
SPARAFUCILE: Your man's in there. Is he to live or die?
RIGOLETTO: I'll come back later to conclude our business.
[SPARAFUCILE moves off behind the house in the direction of the river.]

No. 12, Quartet
DUKE: One day, if I remember rightly,
my pretty one, I met you...
I asked someone about you
and was told that you live here.
Let me say that ever since,
my heart has been yours alone.
GILDA: (Deceiver!)
MADDALENA: Ah! Ah! And of twenty others
that maybe you're forgetting?
I think my fine young man
is a bit of a libertine.
DUKE: Yes, I'm a monster. [Goes to embrace her]
GILDA: Ah, father!
MADDALENA: Leave me alone, you scatterbrain!
DUKE: Ho, what a fuss!
MADDALENA: Behave yourself!
DUKE: Be nice to me,
don't play hard to get.
Good behavior doesn't exclude
jollity and love.
[Caressing ber hand] Pretty white hand!
MADDALENA: You are joking, sir.
DUKE: No, no.
MADDALENA: I'm ugly.
DUKE: Kiss me.
GILDA: (Deceiver!)
MADDALENA: You're drunk!
DUKE: With love.
MADDALENA: If you're trifling with me, sir,
I'm indifferent.
DUKE: No, no. I want to marry you.
MADDALENA: I want your word of honor.
DUKE [ironic]: Sweet little maid!
RIGOLETTO [to GILDA, who has seen and heard all]: Haven't you seen enough?
GILDA: The wicked deceiver!
Quartet -- Duke, Maddalena, Gilda, Rigoletto
DUKE: Fairest daughter of love,
I am a slave to your charms;
with but a single word you could
relieve my every pain.
Come, touch my breast and feel
how my heart is racing.
MADDALENA: Ah! Ah! That really makes me laugh;
talk like that is cheap enough.
Believe me, I know exactly
what such play-acting is worth!
I, my fine sir, am quite accustomed
to foolish jokes like this.
GILDA: Ah, these are the loving words
the scoundrel spoke once to me!
O wretched heart betrayed
do not break for sorrow.
RIGOLETTO [to Gilda]: Hush, weeping can do no good.
You are now convinced he was lying.
Hush, and leave it up to me
to hasten our revenge.
It will be quick, it will be deadly,
I know how to deal with him.

RIGOLETTO: Listen to me, go home.
Take some money and a horse,
Put on the men's clothes I provided,
then leave at once for Verona.
I shall meet you there tomorrow.
GILDA: Come with me now.
RIGOLETTO: It's impossible.
GILDA: I'm afraid.
[The DUKE and MADDALENA continue to laugh and talk together as they drink. GILDA having left, RIGOLETTO goes behind the house and returns with Sparafucile, counting out money into the cut?throat's hands.

[in English] John Rawnsley (b), Rigoletto; Helen Field (s), Gilda; Arthur Davies (t), Duke of Mantua; John Tomlinson (bs), Sparafucile; Jean Rigby (ms), Maddalena; English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Mark Elder, cond. EMI/Chandos, recorded 1983
["Women abandon us" at 2:35; Quartet, "If you want a faithful lover," at 6:55]

Ettore Bastianini (b), Rigoletto; Renata Scotto (s), Gilda; Alfredo Kraus (t), Duke of Mantua; Ivo Vinco (bs), Sparafucile; Fiorenza Cossotto (ms), Maddalena; Chorus and Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond. Mercury/Ricordi/BMG, recorded 1960
["La donna è mobile" at 2:16 of track 1; "Bella figlia dell'amore" at 1:42 of track 2]


VERDI: Rigoletto: Act III, Storm Scene
RIGOLETTO has come to this remote, dilapidated inn to show GILDA what her dearly beloved is really like and to conclude his "contract" with the hired assassin SPARAFUCILE. Following the Quartet, he instructed GILDA to go home, dress as a man, and leave immediately for Verona.

Scena, Trio, and Storm

RIGOLETTO goes behind the house and returns with SPARAFUCILE, counting out his money for him.

RIGOLETTO: Twenty scudi, you said? Here are ten,
and the rest when the work is finished.
He is staying here?
RIGOLETTO: At midnight I shall return.
I can throw him in the river without help.
RIGOLETTO: No, no, I want to do it myself.
SPARAFUCILE: All right. His name?
RIGOLETTO: Do you want to know mine as well?
He is Crime; I am Punishment.
[He leaves; the sky darkens, it thunders.]
SPARAFUCILE: The storm is getting closer.
The night will be darker.
["Bella figlia dell'amore" tune sounded by clarinet]
DUKE: Maddalena? [Trying to embrace her]
MADDALENA [pushing him away]: Wait -- my brother is coming.
SPARAFUCILE [entering]: It's going to rain soon.
DUKE: So much the better.
You can sleep in the stable...
or in hell … wherever you like.
MADDALENA [softly to the Duke]: Ah no! You must leave.
DUKE [to Maddalena]: In this weather?
SPARAFUCILE [softly to MADDALENA]: It means twenty gold scudi.
[To the DUKE] I'll be glad
to offer you my room.
If you want to see it, let's go up now.
[Taking a lamp, he starts up the stairs.]
DUKE: Good; I’ll be with you in a moment.
[He whispers something to MADDALENA, then follows SPARAFUCILE. Again, "Bella figlia dell'amore" tune sounded by clarinet]
MADDALENA: (Poor lad! He's so handsome!
God! What a night this is!)
DUKE [upstairs, noticing that the loft is open on one side]: We sleep in the open, eh? Good enough!
Good night.
SPARAFUCILE: Sir, may God protect you.
DUKE: We'll sleep a little; I'm tired.
Oh, women are fickle, etc.
[He lays down his hat and sword and stretches out on the bed and falls asleep. MADDALENA, meanwhile, has sat down at the table below. SPARAFUCILE drinks from the bottle which the DUKE left unfinished. Both are silent for a moment, lost in their thoughts.]
MADDALENA: He is really most attractive, this young man.
SPARAFUCILE: Oh, yes . . . to the tune of twenty scudi.
MADDALENA: Only twenty! . . . That's not much! He was worth more.
SPARAFUCILE: His sword: if he's asleep, bring it down to me.
[MADDALENA goes upstairs and stands looking at the sleeping DUKE, then closes the balcony as best she can and comes down carrying the sword. GILDA, meanwhile, appears in the road wearing male attire, boots and spurs, and walks slowly towards the inn, where SPARAFUCILE is still drinking. Frequent thunder and lightning.]
GILDA: Ah, my reason has left me!
Love draws me back . . . Father, forgive me!
What a terrible night! Great God, what will happen?
MADDALENA [having put the DUKE's sword on the table]: Brother?
GILDA [peeping through a crack]: Who is speaking?
SPARAFUCILE [rummaging in a cupboard]: Go to the devil!
MADDALENA: He's an Apollo, that young man; I love him,
he loves me . . . let him be . . . let's spare him.
GILDA [listening]: Dear God!
SPARAFUCILE [throwing her a sack]: Mend this sack!
SPARAFUCILE: Because your Apollo, when I've cut his throat,
will wear it when I throw him in the river.
GILDA: I see hell itself!
MADDALENA: But I reckon I can save you the money
and save his life as well.
SPARAFUCILE: Difficult, I think.
MADDALENA: Listen -- my plan is simple.
You've had ten scudi from the hunchback;
he's coming later with the rest . . .
Kill him, and the twenty you've got;
so we lose nothing.
GILDA: What do I hear?. . . My father!
SPARAFUCILE: Kill the hunchback?
What the devil do you mean?
Am I a thief? Am I a bandit?
What client of mine has ever been cheated?
This man pays me, and I shall deliver.
MADDALENA: Ah, have mercy on him!
SPARAFUCILE: He must die.
MADDALENA: I'll see he escapes in time.
[She runs towards the stairs.]
GILDA: Oh, merciful girl!
SPARAFUCILE [holding her back]: We'd lose the money,
MADDALENA: That's true!
SPARAFUCILE: Don't interfere.
MADDALENA: We must save him.
SPARAFUCILE: If someone else comes here before midnight,
they shall die in his place.
MADDALENA: The night is dark, the weather too stormy;
no one will pass by here at this late hour.
GILDA: Oh, what a temptation! To die for the ingrate?
To die! And my father?… Oh, Heaven, have mercy!
[A distant clock chimes half past eleven.]
SPARAFUCILE: There's still half an hour.
MADDALENA [weeping]: Halt, brother . . .
GILDA: What! A woman like that weeps, and I do nothing to help him!
Ah, even if he betrayed my love
I shall save his life with my own!
[She knocks on the door.]
MADDALENA: A knock at the door?
SPARAFUCILE: It was the wind.
[GILDA knocks again.]
MADDALENA: Someone's knocking, I tell you.
SPARAFUCILE: How strange! Who's there?
GILDA: Have pity on a beggar;
grant him shelter for the night.
MADDALENA: A long night will it be!
SPARAFUCILE: Wait a moment. [Searching in the cupboard]
MADDALENA: Come on, get on with it, finish the job.
I am eager to save one life with another.
SPARAFUCILE: So, I'm ready; open the door;
all I want to save is the gold.
GILDA: (Ah, death is near, and I am so young!
Oh, Heaven, for these sinners I ask thy pardon.
Father, forgive your unhappy child!
May the man I am saving be happy.)
MADDALENA: Get on with it!
GILDA: (God! Forgive them!)
[Dagger in hand, SPARAFUCILE positions himself behind the door; MADDALENA opens it, then runs to close the big door under the archway while GILDA enters. SPARAFUCILE closes the door behind her and the rest is darkness and silence.]

Ettore Bastianini (b), Rigoletto; Ivo Vinco (bs), Sparafucile; Alfredo Kraus (t), Duke of Mantua; Fiorenza Cossotto (ms), Maddalena; Renata Scotto (s), Gilda; Chorus and Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond. Mercury/Ricordi/BMG, recorded 1960

Renato Bruson (b), Rigoletto; Dimitri Kavrakos (bs), Sparafucile; Roberto Alagna (t), Duke of Mantua; Mariana Pentcheva (ms), Maddalena; Andrea Rost (s); Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Riccardo Muti, cond. Sony, recorded live, May 13-21 1994



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